Present, Easter 2019, were: The Ant, Teenage Avenger
Rooms as a two aren’t usually something we do. More than enough people keen to play a game each time, or just the doubling of numbers caused by child plus parent generally means we operate as a team of 4, 5 or 6, sometimes up to 8 if the stars align. So it’s quite a novelty – and a little nerve-racking – when it’s just me and the Teenage Avenger. Relying on the practised brains of Granny and Aunty Ant gives us much more confidence in our own abilities, and I never quite know when TA might take a mental duvet day and leave me to do all the thinking on my own.
But occasionally it is nice to use an Escape Room as a parental bonding sesh and just work through stuff together. Sometimes I think it benefits TA to have to shoulder more of the responsibility – his voice can be heard better in a smaller group and he has no hiding place to coast on the efforts of others. When we have played as a pair he has shone. Besides, everyone knows it is good parenting to lock your child in a cursed Egyptian tomb and force them to crawl through tiny passageways on their own. Right?
Betrayal of Cluetankhamun in Harrogate is a pretty good room for a two, anyway. Not a huge space, communication is easy and splitting up to work on separate puzzles doesn’t feel isolating because of the proximity. I’m not sure it would have been as enjoyable with a much larger group – not only tripping over each other, but as a fairly linear room. We worked on most, but not all, puzzles together and our usual team might have been standing around with not much to do. Which would have been as shame, as there were some fun bits. A lot were fairly old-school logic problems; things that you might see in a WH Smith Bumper Book of Puzzles, all given a neat Egyptian twist. The ‘Mummy Hotel’ was a classic example – a familiar concept with cute props, which still required a bit of concentration. Padlock-heavy, but definitely we felt we had a mental work-out on some aspects of the game.
Beckah, our GM, was generous with the clue nudges, without ever spoon-feeding. She was maybe a little quick to steer us in a few places – our decent time reflected that – but, to be fair, we had expressed our ‘we’re missing half our team’ concerns beforehand. She still said we had a lower than average number of hints. Can’t decide if this means they have a lot of newbies, or if the game flow isn’t intuitive, or if she was just being encouraging.
The staff here are super (franchises often have a bad rep) with Steve and Beckah bouncing with sweet, bubbly good humour. Extra bonus for us were the ‘Easter Bunny’ treats hidden away in the room – really cute idea of Clue HQ and very much appreciated. If we had brought smaller people with us, this part of the game would have been a great experience for them. Very sensitive types might be unnerved by the video messages and special effects, but there is no real jeopardy here.
It’s still not a great venue to bring babes-in-arms, or indeed for anyone with serious mobility issues, but that’s entirely due to the building layout, not the atmosphere. We’ll definitely be back when their new CSI game opens in the summer.
- Storyline: Nice, plot-twisty opening, settling down into ‘prove your worth’. Followed through.
- Theming and Set: Impressive for what must be a difficult space. Bit reliant on polysterene and rubber animals.
- Searching: Not a huge amount, more puzzle-based.
- Puzzles: Mostly mental, logic based. Couple of random ‘try all combos’.
- Physicality: One team member needs to crawl.
- Scare factor: Nothing to terrify the camels.
- Company Age Guidance: “Those over 7 years old are welcome, though we feel under 10s may find it too difficult. Those under 16 must have a paying & participating adult over 18 year old as part of their team.”
- Age suitability: That’s pretty right, I think. Under 10s wouldn’t be able to contribute much, except to eat the chocolate. Not enough space for many passengers.